Category: Commander-EDH


An Examination of Time Walk Effects in EDH (Guest Post)

time-walk

Let’s Not Do It Again: An Examination of Time Walk Effects in EDH

Guest post by Eamonn Naidoo

I like playing blue. I like the sense of control it gives when I play – the ability to counter almost any threat to my game plan, while drawing enough cards to make sure I have threats of my own is invaluable, especially in a format like EDH. I also however, know what it’s like to sit across from a blue commander with a non-blue deck and feel pretty dismal, because you just know everything is backed up with permission, and annoying effects like Capsize (does that thing even have a non-buyback cost?). But, those effects are understandable – blue has those effects in its color pie identity (pie-denty?) and those effects are both useful and powerful in EDH. They are not very fun for your opponents, perhaps, but they are necessary. There are aspects of blue that I truly despise though. Two facets specifically – creature stealing and extra turn effects. Nothing incenses me more than those. Today, I’m dealing with the extra turn effects: hopefully I can convince any time walkers out there to lay down their love of temporal manipulation, and to recapture, not Jingue, but the fun of this format.

time-warp

So, why do I hate extra turn effects so much anyway? Well, let’s imagine what happens when some player lays down, let’s say, a Time Warp in a four player game. What happens? Well, for a start, the game slows right down and the normal turn cycle is interrupted. Straight away, there’s a problem. Turns are important in EDH – lots of stuff can happen very quickly. But, in the early turns of the game, people are generally setting up their resources, carving out some sort of game plan for themselves. An extra turn for a player is then pretty good. However, you are then denying the next person, and indeed, the whole table of an entire turns worth of resources. Maybe, you say, that’s just a good use of resources, like playing a Sol Ring on turn 1. Playing a Sol Ring on turn 1 doesn’t require the entire table to watch you for double the normal time however. Which leads me on to my second point: it shifts attention to the player taking the extra turn.

Why is that a bad thing, though? Well, much like the annoying girl on your Facebook feed (“If you can’t handle me at my worst, you don’t deserve me at my best” followed by “Just did body shots off the bartender #ABSolutelytrashed #thisishowwedo”) you don’t particularly want to give the extra turn player your attention, but there they are, militantly posting photos of them and “the gurlzz” hitting up clubs and plastering them all over your news feed. You don’t even have the luxury of “deleting” them in this scenario. And that attention-hungry behavior is, I believe, a real problem in EDH. This format is, by design, a multiplayer format. That means there are all sorts goofy things you can do here, that you can’t do in other formats. Moreover, the fun comes from interaction with other players (90% of the time. The other 10% is you getting to play that sweet new card you just traded for). Extra turn effects take that interaction away. The player taking an extra turn effectively shouts “look at me!” and (without completing their rendition of Lady Bump) forces the whole table to watch as they pretty much just cast a really expensive Explore. What kind of player would do that? I think I’ve narrowed it down to 3 types of player:

1. The Newbie

Everyone wants to break the rules when they can. Fastbond, and other similar effects (time walks included) have this innate appeal to them – a sense that you alone are so powerful that you can break these fundamental rules of the game. So, of course, given a format where most of that wackiness is legal, the new player will play those effects. They are drawn to the power of these effects and are oblivious to any boredom they may cause. Just give them time (see what I did there? That was hard to come up with. This article is really exercising my temporal lobe. Okay, I’ll stop). Hopefully they will repent once they learn the error of their ways.

2. The Die-Hard

The second type of player is the most common (at least in my playgroup). Specifically I have this friend who has this annoying Azami deck complete with every Time Walk effect, save for the $100 + cards. He isn’t a n00b. He knows what’s going on. He is, by all measure, a very good player. Yet, he plays loads of extra turn effects. What’s up with that? Well, when you ask him about it, he restates his opinion that extra turn effects “aren’t that bad, nor are they oppressive or boring”. No matter how much I try to convince him otherwise, he won’t relent. He’s gotten a taste and now firmly (but incorrectly) believes that extra turns are the only way for mono blue to get ahead. This, coming from the deck with a potential 2nd turn Jace, the Mind Sculptor or a turn 3 Patron Wizard, soft-locking everyone out of the game until someone finds a Supreme Verdict. Yeah, mono blue’s got it real hard.

3. The Self-Confirmed “Dick”

Buckle up Lana, ‘cause we’re in the danger zone. I’m sure we’ve all encountered this player before: the player who always brags about how OP his deck is, or how “brutal” his 17-piece combo finisher is. Sometimes, this player might actually have an actually annoying combo (like Knowledge Pool + Teferi, or Mindslaver + Academy Ruins) and when asked why they run it, instead of a more friendly, disrupt-able combo, their answer is always the same: “Because I’m a dick”. They revel in it. They savor every syllable, making sure you know exactly what you’re dealing with, and that no amount of reason or logic can convince them to do anything they don’t want to. Now, this player loves taking extra turns because they know it’s annoying; they know that the entire table hates them, and that when they assemble the infinite turn combo lurking in their deck, the table will most likely concede out of sheer boredom. And they love it.

And that’s another thing: chaining extra turns just exacerbates the problems mentioned previously. The game slows to almost a complete stop, there is no interactivity (and therefore, no fun) and you might as well just be playing solitaire. But there is one thing they don’t do: win the game for you. It’s not a Mikhaeus + Triskelion situation where everyone dies immediately; it’s a slow, durdly, painful limp towards the finish line that is victory. The worst is when they can’t even find a kill condition in the ±4 extra turns that they’ve taken. You made everyone watch you for 30 minutes, and now you can’t even kill us?! If I wanted to watch someone play with themselves for 30 minutes I would … yeah, you can probably figure out the rest.

I could say a lot more on this subject, but I think it would just devolve into me ranting about things I don’t like in general (!) about EDH. Or it might just end up being a poorly contextualized list of Magic related puns (when it comes to Predators, I prefer to let Trygones be Trygones)  Anyway, hopefully, some of what this article said makes logical sense, and even if it didn’t: if you see your playgroup moaning every time you cast Time Stretch, maybe you should take the extra turns out, and see how they react. You could find yourself in a much happier playgroup than before. You may even find yourself having a bit more fun seeing what hilarious situations you – and your friends – can create out of this Magical format.

– Eamonn Naidoo

animar

Being as fond as I am of Animar, Soul of Elements, it shouldn’t be surprising that my first ever Commanding Opinion would center around one of my favorite Legendary Creatures created specifically for the Commander format. He remains one of the very few Legendary Creatures in the RUG color combination. As of right now, he is joined only by Intet the Dreamer, Maelstrom Wanderer, and Riku of Two Reflections as potential Commanders for those colors. He will soon be joined by Surrac Dragonclaw from Khans of Tarkir.

Animar has got some cool things going on for a 3 mana creature. He is only a 1/1, which can mean that when he first hits the board, he’s rather fragile. However, right away, you can see that he has protection from white and from black, which protects him from a good chunk of removal spells, including things such as Dreadbore, Path to Exile, Utter End, Vindicate, or any other white and/or black removal spells. What makes Animar truly awesome is his next two abilities. Whenever you cast a creature spell – even if it becomes countered, you put a +1/+1 counter on Animar. It’s an on-cast trigger, so the creature need not even resolve. Plus, for each +1/+1 counter on Animar, creature spells you cast cost 1 colorless mana less to cast.

The most obvious recent development that benefits a deck commanded by Animar is the influx of new Morph creatures with Khans of Tarkir. While his ability does not affect Morph costs, you can play creatures with Morph for much less with his ability. As soon as Animar has three +1/+1 counters on him, you get to cast Morph creatures for free instead of their usual 3 colorless mana casting cost. It makes their Morph abilities much more potent as you’re playing them for only 2 mana, 1 mana, or even free. There are actually quite a few older Morph creatures that see play with Animar, such as the potent Akroma, Angel of Fury, the clone Vesuvan Shapeshifter, or the tricky Willbender. But Morph creatures aren’t the only ones that benefit from having their colorless casting cost requirements lowered. Let’s take a look at the friends that Animar makes through his astounding abilities.

CREATURES 

Red, Blue, and Green have some of the most powerful creatures in Magic. However, many of them have high mana costs that make them more high-end bombs in most decks. Animar makes those sorts of creatures available to you much earlier in games and at much lower mana investments. This sort of mana-curve bending is one reason that Animar has over time become one of the most feared Commanders in the format and why he is so quickly targeted at any given table he is played upon.

The most common creatures seen hanging out with Animar are actually fairly staple cards in the Commander format: Eternal Witness, Acidic Slime, and Solemn Simulacrum.

eternal-witnessacidic-slimesolemn-simulacrum

Of all the creatures that are played alongside Animar, Eternal Witness probably gains the least benefit. However, her casting does give Animar one of those nifty +1/+1 counters. Being able to get any card back from your graveyard is good at pretty much any point in the game, however.

Acidic Slime is already very good at 5 mana, and saw Standard play for quite a long time in decks that could play it on turn 3 or 4. In Animar, he can cost as little as 2 Green Mana. Being able to destroy a mana rock, pesky Enchantment, or utility land can really set opponents back. As Animar decks tend to ramp quite a bit themselves, you may not even need the benefit of Animar’s ability to cast him on turn three or four.

One of the fathers of Commander, Sheldon Menery, has said time and time again that Solemn Simulacrum is one of the staples of the format. For 4 mana, he is a 2/2 that searches out a basic land from your deck and puts it onto the battlefield tapped. When he dies, you get to draw a card. That’s a lot of value for 4 mana on a body that can be played in any Commander deck around. Add to the fact that he’s rarely going to be cast for 4 mana in this deck, and he only gets better. He’s one of the creatures in this deck that can regularly be played for free. A Rampant Growth effect that could end up drawing you a card for free is extremely good.

Speaking of ramp, let’s look at some carsd that do just that:

birds-of-paradisesakura-tribe-elderoracle-of-mul-daya

Birds of Paradise is a card that doesn’t typically see a ton of Commander play due to the fact that it’s so fragile. But it can be a turn one play that instantly gives you access to all three of your colors and it’s a creature that can give Animar a counter at any point in the game.

Sakura-Tribe Elder is pretty much a Commander staple, but with Animar he could cost only a single Green mana, and is yet another cheap creature to ramp up the counters on Animar. Plus, his availability in the Conspiracy set makes him even easier to get than he’s ever been.

Oracle of Mul Daya is one of the best cards in this deck. Many people hate revealing the top card of their deck, as it gives away information about draws, but playing land from the top of your deck up to twice per turn is extremely advantageous. If you have Exploration on the field (not required in this deck, but possible), you could even play three lands off of the top of the deck. While Courser of Kruphix has become sexier in competitive play despite being a similar card, the Courser doesn’t give you the extra land drop and its 1GG casting cost isn’t as friendly as 3G for Animar. Playing this for a single Green mana feels very good.

coiling-oraclemulldrifter

Some people consider Coiling Oracle to be a Blue/Green staple in Commander for any deck running that color combination. For 2 mana, you can get a land from the top of your card right into play untapped. If that top card isn’t a land card, you reveal it and add it to your hand. It obviously combos very well with Oracle of Mul Daya. While it costs GU (Green/Blue) and doesn’t have any colorless mana symbols in its cost, it still is yet another cheap trigger for Animar.

Speaking of card advantage, Mulldrifter has been a popular card since the days of Lorwyn, when it was first released. Evoking it for a Divination (draw 2 cards for 3 mana) always feels good. But with Animar, its Evoke cost could be as low as a single Blue mana, and with 4 counters on Animar, you get the 2 cards and a 2/2 flying body for a single Blue mana. Mulldrifter’s value is at a maximum alongside the Soul of Elements.

farhaven-elfyavimaya-elderwood-elves

Farhaven Elf, Yavimaya Elder, and Wood Elves are all pretty standard ramp cards. The Elves have the advantage of possibly costing only a single Green mana each, but the Elder, despite having a double-Green mana cost is just too valuable to not play. Farhaven (often mistakenly called “Fairhaven”) Elf can grab any of your basic Forests, Islands and Mountains and put them into play tapped. The Wood Elves have the advantage of grabbing basic Forests or your Breeding Pool or Stomping Ground and putting it into play untapped (you still have to pay the 2 life for the “shock” lands, though, if you decide to have them come into play untapped). The Elder is just pure value if you sacrifice him to cycle him and grab two basic lands.

fierce-empathsages-of-the-anima

Speaking of tutor effects, Fierce Empath helps you to grab any of your creature cards with converted mana cost 6 or greater. We haven’t quite gotten to them yet, but there are some very powerful ones higher on the mana curve.

Sages of the Anima is one creature that’s often played in Animar that is a bit tricky. The ability of the Sages is that whenever you would draw a card, you instead reveal the top three cards of your library. You put all creature cards revealed this way into your hand and the rest on the bottom of your library in any order. Being able to consistently add two or three creatures to your hand is nifty, especially as you don’t run a ton of non-creature spells in Animar. But personally, I think you have to be careful when you play it.

momir-vig

While often played in tandem with the Sages, I would prefer to just play Momir Vig, Simic Visionary by himself. Not only is he famous for being the Avatar of Momir Basic, an extremely popular Magic Online format, but he’s a fantastic commander of his own. While his ability is only effected by green and blue creatures, the majority of your deck will in fact be blue and green creatures.

Here’s what he does:

Whenever you cast a green creature spell, you may search your library for a creature card and reveal it. If you do, shuffle your library and put that card on top of it.

Whenever you cast a blue creature spell, reveal the top card of your library. If it’s a creature card, put that card into your hand.

Talk about some sweet card advantage. You cast a green creature spell and you get a Worldly Tutor effect, and if you cast a blue creature spell you get the top card of your deck if it’s a creature. If that creature is both blue and green, you get both effects. Personally, while the Sages can be better, I think Momir Vig is a better way to get exactly what you need at the time rather than just adding a bunch of creatures to your hand. But that’s my personal opinion. Running both is perfectly fine.

Speaking of card draw…

garruks-packleaderprime-speaker-zegana

Garruk’s Packleader is actually a really good card. Not only is he a great Pauper EDH Commander, but he’s really good in a creature-heavy deck. There are a good amount of power 3 or higher creatures in this deck that we’ll be getting to soon. There’s actually another card in Khans of Tarkir very similar to this, Temur Ascendancy, but it’s an Enchantment that grants you a card for a creature entering with power 4 or greater. This is a creature and the floor is only power 3.

Prime Speaker Zegana is a really good Commander and a key component to Vorel of the Hull Clade decks. Since you have creatures in this deck with high levels of power, she’ll often enter with a good number of +1/+1 counters, and you’ll be drawing a number of cards equal to those counters. Add to the fact that her casting cost of 2GGUU is often going to look like GGUU with Animar on board, and you’re talking about solid value.

clone-m14phantasmal-image

Clone was actually one of the first cards ever printed for Magic: the Gathering, beginning all the way back in Alpha. It dosen’t see quite the play that it used to in Commander after the Legendary rule was changed to every player being able to control a Legendary permanent with the same name. However, in Animar, with all of the powerful creatures it can copy, it makes sense.

Phantasmal Image is the Clone that’s most often used in Constructed, in Modern, Legacy, and Commander. Being only 2 mana makes its downside as an Illusion not really that important. He always provides a lot of value when he hits the board.

duplicant-archenemyvesuvan-shapeshifter

Duplicant sees play in a wide variety of Commander decks due to its completely colorless mana cost. Not only does it serve as removal by exiling the nontoken creature in question, but it also copies that creature’s stats and creature types while also remaining a Shapeshifter. It’s not a true Clone, per se, as it doesn’t copy enter the battlefield abilities, but it has the potential to be cast for free with 6 counters on Animar. Overall, it’s just a solid card in many Commander decks.

Vesuvan Shapeshifter is a repeatable Clone. Not only that, it’s a Morph creature, meaning that its usual casting cost of 3 colorless mana to be played face-down as a Morph creature can usually be free. The idea that it can be flipped face up for only 1U and then be turned face-down again at the beginning of your upkeep in order to then Clone something else is quite extraordinary. Do keep in mind, however, that you only get to Clone the enter the battlefield effects if you pay its regular casting cost. But it’s well worth that initial investment. It may be one of the best Morph cards ever printed.

phyrexian-metamorphclever-impersonator

Phyrexian Metamorph is one of the more versatile Clones in the game, in that it can be cast for 3 colorless mana and 2 life. It can also copy artifacts as well as creatures. Much of the time, he’ll only cost 1 or 2 mana at most, and paying 2 life in Commander isn’t a big deal.

But now the Metamorph has competition from Clever Impersonator from Khans of Tarkir. It costs 2UU, but it can copy any nonland permanent on the board, including Enchantments and Planeswalkers. You can definitely add the Impersonator to any Blue deck, Animar included.

draining-whelkmystic-snakeglen-elendra-archmage

Draining Whelk and Mystic Snake are both creatures with Flash that are essentially counterspells on a body. Draining Whelk is the more expensive of the two, but Animar can make it costs as little as UU. Also, the Whelk gains X +1/+1 counters where X is the countered spell’s converted mana cost. Counterspells that gain value as the game progresses are always quite good.

Mystic Snake requires two colors in its casting cost, but is simply a hard counter for as little as GUU on a 2/2 body. It sees a lot of play in a wide variety of Commander decks, and while it doesn’t have quite the synergy with Animar that Draining Whelk does, it’s still good enough to play.

Glen Elandra Archmage is very good in that she can usually counter two noncreature spells, due to the fact that she has Persist. Having that ability open to you for a potential cost of only U to cast is very strong.

Another major component to Animar is the Cascade creatures, one of which is its own potential Commander.

bloodbraid-elfetherium-horn-sorcerer maelstrom-wanderer

Bloodbraid Elf is one of my favorite cards in Magic: the Gathering, and for good reason – it’s very powerful. Not only is it a 3/2 Elf with Haste, but she also has Cascade. Considering that she is regularly a 4-drop (2RG) that can be played for as little as RG you can get some serious value out of her. For those unfamiliar with the Cascade mechanic, you reveal cards from the top of your deck until you reveal a nonland card with a lower converted mana cost than the card with Cascade, in this case, anything with converted mana cost 3 or less. There are enough such cards in this deck that it’s worth playing the Bloodbraid Elf. Plus, with Cascade, those cards are counted as cast, meaning that they activate Animar’s counter ability.

Etherium-Horn Sorcerer, which was only printed as a Planechase exclusive in the same deck as Maelstrom Wanderer, While the Sorcerer is technically a 6-drop, it can cost as little as UR with Animar on the board, meaning you’re getting the chance to cast something as high as a 5-drop for free for only 2 mana. Plus the Sorcerer can also be returned to hand for 1UR, allowing to dodge removal and be able to Cascade once again.

Maelstrom Wanderer is a mighty good Commander on his own, but in Animar, if you can cast him for only URG, you’re getting some ridiculous value. Not only does the Wanderer give all of your creatures haste – itself included – but it also Cascades twice. To hit something as high as a 7-drop twice is just an absurd amount of value. He’s worth casting for the full 8 mana, but the cheaper he becomes, the better he gets.

You could run Shardless Agent which is a Cascade creature for 1UG. However, she tends to not hit very much in this deck, so she’ll often send a lot of cards you’d want to have to the bottom.

Speaking of Commanders, two of the other potential RUG commanders are often played alongside Animar…

intet-the-dreamerriku-of-two-reflections

Intet the Dreamer provides an interesting sort of card advantage engine. Whenever she deals combat damage to a player, you may pay 2U. You get to exile the top card of your library face down. As long as Intet remains on the battlefield, you may cast that card for free. Obviously if Intet leaves the battlefield you lose that card forever. More often than not, you’re probably going to cast it right away.

Riku of Two Reflections is a pretty tricky Commander himself, or himselves… In this deck, you’re basically only ever going to use him to clone creatures for GU. The instant or sorcery spell copy isn’t so necessary in this deck, as you’re only running a few in this deck anyway. Repeatable clone effects are very good, especially with the power level of creatures we’re dealing with.

Before we get to the heavy hitters in the deck, let’s take a look at a couple of other creatures that are well at home in this deck.

consecrated-sphinxurabrask-the-hiddenvorinclex

Consecrated Sphinx is one of the most powerful cards in Commander, and for good reason – he can draw you a ton of cards. In a deck that can always use the draw power, the Sphinx is a valuable card. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s a 4/6 flyer that can cost you as little as UU to cast.

Urabrask the Hidden is not only a Haste enabler but he also forces opponents’ creatures to enter the battlefield tapped. He’s an extremely popular card in the format for that reason, but he’s probably best at home in Animar, where he can cost as little as RR to play. He’s also a 4/4.

Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger could probably fit into the “heavy hitter” category but you don’t play him for that reason. Any 8-drop that can be played for as little as GG with the kind of effects that he has is magnificent. He’s a 7/6 with trample to begin with. Also, whenever you tap a land for mana, add one mana to your mana pool of any type that land produced – meaning that it’s essentially a mana doubler. This is great for Animar, since you don’t have access to a card like Mirari’s Wake, as it’s green & white. But not only does it double your mana – it also makes it so that when opponent’s tap lands for mana, they don’t untap for another turn. Ouch.

We should now also talk about the combo pieces in the deck.

deadeyenavigatorpalinchron

The infinite mana combo between Deadeye Navigator and Palinchron is well known in Commander. But infinite mana is not quite as important in Animar as it is in a lot of other decks. The Navigator typically will combo with a lot of other cards in the deck, and considering that it can be cast for as low as UU, it allows for combo potential far more early than most non-Blue Commander decks. Palinchron is more in the deck because of its interaction with Animar’s counters. Once there are four counters on Animar, you can cast Palinchron for 1UU and return it to hand for 2UU after untapping seven lands. On the next cast, Animar will have a 5th counter, allowing you to start an infinite loop for infinite mana. It’s a crazy way to mana fix, but it means that once you have this combination in place, you’ll always have the mana you need.

kiki-jikizealous-conscripts

The other major combo piece in the deck is Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker and Zealous Conscripts. Kiki-Jiki can combo with a good many creatures in the deck, so he’s rarely a dead draw. The triple-Red mana cost is a bit restrictive in a three color deck, but his presence is worth it, especially when he combos off with Zealous Conscripts. The Conscripts targets Kiki-Jiki, which then untaps. You can then make an infinite number of Conscripts, until the last one, with which you can then steal a problem permanent. It also is incredibly nice that Conscripts can be cost for as low as R.

You could also play Deceiver Exarch, of course, which can tap things down, but Zealous Conscripts is typically the better play as it’s incredibly useful on its own.

Now onto the heavy hitters…

artisan-of-kozilek

Artisan of Kozilek is the most common heavy hitter you’ll find in Animar. It does cost 9 colorless mana to cast, but you’re usually going to be casting it for far less. It’s a 10/9 with Annihilator 2, meaning that the defending player that it attacks must sacrifice two permanents! Also, when it’s cast, you may return a target creature card from your graveyard to the battlefield. It’s obviously the cheapest of all Eldrazi cards, and if you can’t afford Ulamog or Kozilek, you definitely want to at least include this one.

terastodon

Terastodon can be a devastating card, but it’s even more devastating when you consider how cheaply it can be cast for (GG). While it’s perhaps rare that you’ll be only able to cast it for only 2 mana, the value it provides is worth any amount of reduced cost. It’s a 9/9 for 6GG and when it enters the battlefield, you may destroy up to three target noncreature permanents. For each permanent put into a graveyard this way, its controller puts a 3/3 green Elephant creature token onto the battlefield. Giving away Elephants isn’t all that relevant if you’re destroying powerful enough permanents.

Woodfall Primus fills this role in many decks, but the triple Green in that creature’s mana cost make it a bit clunky for Animar decks.

surrak-dragonclaw

Khans of Tarkir gave Animar a very strong ally, the Temur Clan Khan, Surrak Dragonclaw. He costs 2GUR to cast, and he’s a 6/6 Human Warrior with Flash that can’t be countered. Not only that, but other creature spells you control can’t be countered either as long as he’s on the board. Also, other creatures you control gain trample. Making sure your creatures stick, especially Animar, is very important. He doesn’t gain trample himself, but most of the other creatures in this deck are big enough to make that element worth it. He provides two elements that this deck was missing – a way to keep creatures from being countered and a way to give creatures trample on a consistent basis. Having a 6/6 with Flash at your disposal is likewise rather handy.

jin-gitaxias

While I’m personally not the biggest fan of Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur in Animar, he does make some sense. It’s 8UU, making it a dead draw for most of the game. He does have Flash, however, and you get to draw 7 cards at the end of each of your end steps. Having something like Reliquary Tower is very helpful in this case. But you really play him for the fact that he reduces your opponents’ hand sizes by seven – so if they don’t have a Venser’s Journal, Spellbook, or Reliquary Tower out, your opponents will be discarding their hands at the end of every turn. He’s not going to consistently make an appearance, but once he does, he can be incredibly crippling.

avenger-of-zendikartidespout-tyrant

Avenger of Zendikar is a very powerful card in Commander just for the number of Plant creature tokens he can pump out. For each land you then drop after that, those Plant creatures gain +1/+1. His army of Plant tokens can get rather out of control, and that 7 mana cost is not nearly as imposing with Animar in play.

Tidespout Tyrant might have that cumbersome triple-Blue mana cost, but for 5UUU for a 5/5 flyer that returns permanents to its owner’s hand whenever you play a spell… yeah, it’s worth it. Once the Tyrant hits the board, the game could well be over.

xenagos-god-of-revels

While typically best deployed as Commander of his own deck, Xenagos, God of Revels is actually quite helpful in Animar, especially for giving your larger creatures Haste and doubling its power and toughness for one combat phase. While not a part of many Animar lists, he’s one that I highly recommend as he’s very hard to remove because of its indestructibility. You don’t really care about him ever becoming active as his static ability is enough to play him.

Nylea, God of the Hunt, Purphoros, God of the Forge, and Thassa, God of the Sea are all playable in Animar, but not necessarily incredibly synergistic. Purphoros makes the most sense as he deals 2 damage to each opponent whenever a creature enters the battlefield under your control – a great combination with a card like Avenger of Zendikar.

Now, if you can afford them – here are the two major players in the deck:

kozilek-butcher-of-truthulamog-the-infinite-gyre

While their big brother Emrakul won’t be joining in any time soon in the Commander format, Kozilek, Butcher of Truth and Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre are both mighty enough on their own to flank Animar in the endgame. Kozilek draws you four cards and has Annihilator 4. Ulamog destroys a target permanent upon entering and has Annihilator 4, plus indestructibility. If either is put into a graveyard from anywhere, it and the rest of the graveyard is shuffled back into the deck.

If you can’t afford either of these cards, there are the less expensive uncommon Eldrazi: Pathrazer of Ulamog, Spawnsire of Ulamog, and Ulamog’s Crusher. The Spawnsire’s second ability isn’t much use in this case, however. The point is to have some big finishers.

Alternatively, you could use Darksteel Colossus, Blightsteel Colossus or both. They are also quite appropriate in this deck.

Other creatures you would or could run in Animar:

  • Anger (3R) – yet another Haste enabler, as long as you control a Mountain and Anger is in your graveyard
  • Edric, Spymaster of Trest (1UG) – a great card draw outlet that I’ve had varied success with in the deck
  • Fauna Shaman (1G) – discard a creature card you don’t want to get one that you do from your deck
  • Forgotten Ancient (3G) – stockpiles +1/+1 counters that you can move to Animar
  • Indrik Stomphowler (4G) – artifact/enchantment destruction
  • Inferno Titan (4RR) – he can provide amazing value if cast for cheap and given haste
  • Man-O-War (2U) – simple bounce a creature to its owner’s hand
  • Phyrexian Ingester (6U) – a bit high on the mana curve for most decks, but he’s useful removal that gains that creature’s power and toughness
  • Primordial Sage (4GG) – draw a card every time you cast a creature spell, on a 4/5 body
  • Prophet of Kruphix (3UG) – giving your creatures flash and untapping all your creatures and lands during each upkeep
  • Soul of the Harvest (4GG) – draw a card each time a nontoken creature enters the battlefield under your control
  • Wonder (3U) – giving all of your creatures flying works wonders
  • Wurmcoil Engine (6) – lifelink, deathtouch, 6/6 for 6 colorless mana, and it replaces itself with two 3/3 tokens – just solid value

Some other cards you could use:

  • Cloudstone Curio – reuse enter the battlefield effects of your utility creatures
  • Domri Rade – can get you some card advantage by adding creatures to your hand
  • Garruk Wildspeaker – untapping lands is fun and overrun is even more fun
  • Worldly Tutor – because tutoring is awesome

I hope that this primer helps you to be able to construct your own Animar, Soul of Elements Commander deck. There are many ways to build it, with many other combo options that can be added in. Soon, we will be discussing a very different build of Animar, one that will center around the Morph creatures of Khans of Tarkir. Stay tuned for that.

Until next time,

– Elspeth for the Win

 

 

We’re proud to announce the introduction of yet another new writer, J.C. Wilbur. He is an avid EDH and Legacy player who will be sharing his knowledge with us, especially about Legacy, a format that we have not written about at all on Win Target Game so far. Also, be sure to check out his brand new blog: http://devastatingdreamer.wordpress.com

Today, J.C. takes a look at his Krenko, Mob Boss EDH deck and explains why Red is most certainly not the “worst color in EDH” as many believe. Enjoy!

“The Red Zone: Why the “Worst Color in EDH” is Anything But”

“Red’s just terrible in Commander, bro!”

I hear this kind of opinion all the time.

“It’s a splash color at best. But you can find better options in other colors.”

“Green destroys artifacts anyway, has better creatures and it ramps you. Why play Red?”

“Land destruction? Please stop being such a dick!”

Everyone seems to have these canned responses to Red in EDH. These are views that I honestly believe are fostered by an ignorance of the color’s flexibility and sheer power. I, as you may have guessed by the title, am here to persuade you otherwise; Red is actually a brutally strong color if you know how to play it right (and, yes, we will be talking about land destruction).

First, introductions. I have been playing Magic for around seven years now; I started in high school, probably the worst time to be playing it from a social standpoint but we won’t get into that. In college I began my Legacy career, starting with Affinity and then cutting very deep into the format. I have played many, many different kinds of decks and, while I appreciate all the colors and combinations thereof, mono colored decks have always held an allure. It’s a challenge, you see: it’s relatively easy to just say to yourself “I’m lacking X kind of card; better splash Y color that has X in it!” But it’s entirely different to sit down with a mono White deck and say to yourself, “Okay, he has True-Name Nemesis and a Stoneforge Mystic with a Jitte in hand. How are we going to stop that?” We’ll be avoiding that particular Legacy scenario today. Instead let’s ask ourselves another question: “I know my Rhys, the Redeemed opponent plays Elesh Norn; so, what can my mono Red deck do to answer that?”

The answer is pretty simple: beat them before they beat you, using any (some brutal) means necessary. Fortunately for Red, winning quick is one of its strong points. Take my current Krenko, Mob Boss list for example:

http://tappedout.net/mtg-decks/krenko-mob-boss-goblins-and-gangbangers/

Perhaps on the surface this seems like just another aggressive beatdown deck—and you wouldn’t be incorrect. This deck is all about pummeling your opponent as fast as you can. However, this list has more in common with its Legacy cousin than your typical Red aggro that flames out after a few turns. Come, let us go deeper into the warrens.

The Green Men

krenko

Krenko, Mob Boss

He really is a boss. Krenko takes the big chair in this deck over Kiki-Jiki because his ability is, simply put, broken in this deck. Doubling your army with expendable tokens is more relevant than just spamming combat—though that is always your primary plan. The tokens give you everything you need: mana from Skirk Prospector/Phyrexian Altar, damage from Siege-Gang Commander/Purphoros, God of the Forge and added buff with a Coat of Arms in play. Krenko himself has a few very relevant elements: being a 3/3 means that he survives Elesh Norn, allowing you to rebuild quickly if she does land; having a CMC of four means that Austere Command, unless choosing all creatures, may not hit him since your opponents are likely more worried about the tokens; finally, since he actually is a Goblin, Krenko is easy to recover from an Oblation, Spin into Myth or Chaos Warp—or he can be ignored completely. That’s the brilliance of this particular build, I think: it’s completely autonomous without the commander but becomes exponentially more lethal when he’s around.

kiki-jiki

Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker

Krenko’s right hand goblin. Although Krenko is all-around more efficient, Kiki-Jiki is definitely the more powerful card and functions in complete symphony with the rest of the deck. He’s the card that Legacy Goblins has wet dreams about—a utility machine that just creates insane value. Beyond the obvious combo with Zealous Conscripts, Kiki-Jiki turns your already great Goblin Matron, Ringleader and Settler into repeating effects that will only infuriate your opponents. Or you can copy Piledriver to end a game sooner, Siege-Gang for more bodies or any of the lords to buff your team. There is very little to say about Kiki-Jiki other than that he is one of the reasons you should play Red.

goblin-assassin

Goblin Assassin

On the surface, the Assassin looks bad—terrible, really—until you consider his interaction with Krenko. Suddenly, your tokens become edict effects, albeit random ones. However, if you’re spitting out eight tokens, more than likely you’ll keep a few and your opponents will lose some, if not all, of their creatures. Goblin Assassin is the kind of card I go heads-over-heels for—a hidden card advantage engine if you use it properly.

sensation-gorger

Sensation Gorger

A Wheel of Fortune on legs. Except when you wheel with Gorger, you draw an extra card for turn, putting you at a temporary advantage—and, as a plus, you are guaranteed some kind of gas to go with him.

zo-zu-the-punisher

Zo-Zu, the Punisher

Rounding out the less obvious of the creatures is Zo-Zu, a card your opponents will learn to hate. Like Sensation Gorger above, Zo-Zu is a walking version of another card—Ankh of Mishra in this case. Zo-Zu is nice because he is a response to a common behavior among all EDH decks: ramp. From the best of the best in Exploration to something janky like Burnished Hart, Zo-Zu despises them all. Maybe your opponents will ignore him and take the damage, hoping to slam a lifesaver—and maybe the six-to-ten damage they have taken over the course of those few turns has softened them up for an alpha strike.

There are other cards I’d love to ramble about but I’d like to move on to other cards in the deck and how to relate to Red’s power in the EDH format. Specifically…

 

Land Destruction (or How I Learned That Sometimes You Have to Be a “Dick”):

So, here’s the thing: land destruction isn’t that bad. Yes, I know. You can’t cast your Tooth and Nail. I get it. It “sets the game back.” I know. I hear you over there, across the table, bemoaning top decks with no mana sources. But you know what? LD gets too much hate. If you cast Tooth and Nail, for example, and slam down an Iona and an Elesh Norn against my deck, I lose. That’s really all there is to it—maybe, yes, I’ll find Karn for your Iona and Chaos Warp your Norn, but that’s really, really unlikely. Meanwhile, you get to sit in behind your fat hatemonsters, wondering why I am frustrated. And I’ll tell you why—I wish you would have casted an Obliterate instead. Hell, Worldfire if it wasn’t banned. At least then I could maybe play some Magic.

Perhaps you choose a different kind of deck and you flip an Erayo, Soratami Ascendant and cast an Arcane Laboratory. How is this much different from me destroying your lands? Your opponents can’t cast anything, short of an Abrupt Decay or something off a Boseiju/Cavern of Souls, without losing it—in fact, it’s even less fair since you get to play your game while we sit around. Frankly, I don’t see how dominating with something like the previous two scenarios or something a bit more tame like a Sun Titan & Pernicious Deed lock is any less fair than cycling a Decree of Annihilation.

Here’s what I’ve learned about land destruction in EDH: people rarely play it “just to be a dick.” Aside from the handful  of people that think to themselves “man, I’d really love to play Hokori, the Dust Drinker” and massage themselves, most people running land destruction run it because they need an equalizer. Take something like Kaalia—right from turn zero, everyone at the table knows who they’re attacking first, who they’re playing their hates spell on first, who they’ll be “dealing with” first. It’s not unreasonable, Kaalia is a real bitch if she gets going—but it is dickish singling anyone out because they like a certain strategy. We’re all out to win, after all; even if we tell ourselves we’re “here to have fun,” Magic is a game in which there must be a victor—and sometimes that means you are destroying lands. In my mind, it’s completely fair to cast Armageddon with Kaalia in play since, without it, everyone else will simply crap on her for the entire game.

With Krenko, it’s much the same. As a committed aggro deck, I can’t afford to play the typical slow-game of EDH. I have very few “battlecruiser spells” (Insurrection is the goofiest I get) and most of my deck starts to grow stale past turn six. I need an equalizer, something that can give me an edge if the game goes long, and it shall if more than two people sit across from me. Land destruction naturally fits that need—by effectively taking us back to the early game, I can regain my footing and maybe scrape out a win.

Maybe you still dislike my rationale and that’s perfectly fine; if everyone preferred the exact same archetype and strategy Magic would become an entirely boring ordeal. All I ask is that you don’t castigate someone for liking or pursuing a particular strategy; instead, seek out your best way of counteracting it, be that through cards like Terra Eternal or simply sandbagging a land or two in your hand.

My current land destruction package is admittedly light; however, I dislike cards like Wildfire or Obliterate that wipe out my forces with them:

goblin-settler

Goblin Settler

This one is obvious: Stone Rain on a Goblin is crazy, crazy good. Especially with Goblin Lackey or Kiki-Jiki as I mentioned above.

wasteland stripmine

Wasteland/Strip Mine

Both are, in my opinion, necessary in most EDH decks. It’s nice to have an out to manlands, Maze of Ith and out-of-control ramp cards like Gaea’s Cradle, Cabal Coffers and Serra’s Sanctum. Note that I don’t run Crucible of Worlds because, frankly, I haven’t become that heartless yet.

price-of-glory

Price of Glory

Another reason why Red is awesome. Flavor text notwithstanding, Price of Glory forces your opponents to respond differently or suffer the consequences—while your game plan is completely unchanged.

bloodmoon

Blood Moon

Ah, yes, the bane of tri-color decks since nearly the dawn of the game itself. Blood Moon is another card that can blow some opponents right out of the water while leaving you basically unscathed, especially if they aren’t on Red.

impending-disaster

Impending Disaster

I love it when flavor (especially something that syncs with your commander) and mechanics come together. This card only becomes better with more players, and can take the heat off one of some other Krosan Grip-destined card you or a friend control.

Decree-of-Annihilation-FtV-Annihilation-Visual-Spoiler

Decree of Annihilation

Yes, the one everyone hates. Uncounterable, instant speed and draws you a card. You’ll be cycling this card 90% of the time, but sometimes it’s nice to just equalize everything.

ruination

Ruination

A nice answer to three-or-more color decks with very little downside for the mono Red player. It’s also nice that, even under a Blood Moon, Ruination destroys lands. Land Destruction isn’t the only reason to play Red. In fact, there are at least three other advantages Red has over any other color: Haste, Direct Damage, and Chaos. Let’s break each of these down.

fervor masshysteria hammer of purphoros

Haste

Oh, haste. Hasty haste. Other cards may give your creatures haste like Lightning Greaves or Concordant Crossroads, but none compare to Red. In my list alone (not including Goblin Warchief, Goblin Chieftain and Hellraiser Goblin), I have Fervor, Mass Hysteria and Hammer of Purphoros; even these don’t scratch the surface of other haste cards like Ogre Battledriver or Anger.

So, why care about haste? It only lasts for a turn, after all. Here’s the thing: one turn can make or break a game. One additional combat step can tilt the game in your favor, leaving slower opponents scrambling to keep up. This is only further compounded by Krenko’s ability; once you start spamming the field with twenty or so goblins at a time, your opponents suddenly start to get worried, often too late.

I also find many people like to play board wipes. Once things start to get hairy, your White mages start clutching their Austere Commands with great eagerness; your Blue mages, now realizing they can’t counter everything you do, start tutoring for Cyclonic Rift or Evacuation. Once the dust settles, things are back to the same, stalled safezone that “everyone wants” while they return to assembling their pillowforts. Haste gives the Red deck the ability to recoup after a wipe and continue to disrupt your reactive opponents, keeping the damage stream going. On that note, let’s talk about…

Direct Damage

And I’m not talking about Lightning Bolt. In my list, there are a few cards that do DD, but each are more devastating than your typical bolt; some are more goblin- or token-centric, so take this list with a grain of salt.

goblin-bombardment

Goblin Bombardment

Again, flavor win. Most of the time this doubles your damage output, turning any goblin that deals damage to your opponent into a bomb. However, it also gives you good creature removal, generating card advantage via Krenko’s token ability and by making your Goblin Sharpshooter go berserk.

siege-gang commander

Siege-Gang Commander

Functions much like Goblin Bombardment, except that he deals more damage and brings a bunch of cousins to load into the cannon.

purphoros

Purphoros, God of the Forge

A blessing for Red, Purphoros demolishes pillowforts with his godly hammer. His pump ability, though expensive, is a nice touch. Sometimes you’ll be swinging with him, though this is just icing on the cake.

chandra-ablaze

Chandra Ablaze

I was skeptical of it at first, but Chandra deals with most commanders, creatures, other planeswalkers, your opponents… honestly, she’s just great, even if you are discarding Red cards. Her other abilities, especially her little wheel, are bonuses as far as I am concerned.

bonfire of the damned

Bonfire of the Damned

B-B-B-Burn everything in your path! A one-sided wipe is very much what this deck wants, especially when it can hurt planeswalkers or straight-up dome people.

mizziummortars

Mizzium Mortars

A staple of Red EDH decks and in this deck for the same reason as Bonfire, though the fact it can never be turned on you and can be a decent Flame Slash.

goblinsharpshooter lightning crafter

Goblin Sharpshooter/Lightning Crafter

More synergy with the rest of the deck; Crafter has the bonus of saving a Goblin Matron or Goblin Ringleader from a boardwipe, Sharpshooter has the ability to go nuts with a bunch of tokens and a sacrifice outlet.

pandemonium-time-spiral

Pandemonium

If you’re one of those Norin the Wary type,s you are already familiar with this card. Beyond costing much less than a Warstorm Surge, Pandemonium creates just that: complete chaos. Suddenly your opponents are hurting one another; players previous lacking in removal need only play a creature to remove the Nekusar or Azami that has been plaguing them. Sure sometimes they may hit you, but there’s a chance they won’t—and this brings us to Red’s last saving grace…

wheeloffortunealpha

Chaos

Ever since the printing of Wheel of Fortune, chaos as a theme has been Red’s major advantage and disadvantage. When you’re winning it does not seem advantageous… but if you’re losing? What’s the worst that could happen? Chaos further adds to Red’s political advantage that I think few players appreciate.

warpworld

Take Warp World, for example (it’s not in my Krenko list, but it is definitely a good Red card): its effect screams “Hey guys! Let’s see what we can do next!” Warp World is the kind of card that gives players who are losing or being oppressed by other commanders a glint of hope — this is Red’s most underplayed advantage, I believe: not the ability to necessarily change the board, but to change the minds of your opponents. If you cast a huge, chaos-y spell that gives previously bloodied players a second wind, you’ll gain political currency with them that can translate into a direct advantage in-game (note: do not expect any favors from Spikes; they’ll thank you for releasing their shackles and proceed to kill you just as mercilessly as your opponents).

A few cards I run under the Chaos banner are:

gamble-urzas-saga

Gamble

Flavor text says it all. Sometimes this card nets you a Sol Ring on turn one, sometimes you discard a Kiki-Jiki and frown. But, either way, there’s a chance. Not that this card is a fun way to make friends by choosing someone to choose your card to discard.

chaoswarp

Chaos Warp

Pretty much standard in all Red EDH decks. As a Red Oblation, this card trades something really scary (Elesh Norn, Propaganda) for potentially something else. Or you can use it to gain favor from someone who has had a commander or beloved fatty stolen. Your choice.

wheel-of-fortune

Wheel of Fortune

Another card that is basically a staple. Wheel effects are a nice way of restocking an empty hand with fuel and also a great way to equalizes anyone with a stocked hand and a Reliquary Tower out.

Well, I hope you’re still with me! This article definitely turned out to be more of a monster than I originally intended, but I hope you enjoyed reading it. Hopefully I’ve swayed your opinion on land destruction and Red’s power in EDH; maybe you’re sharpening your pitchforks in the comments section. Regardless, I have one thing to remind you of before I go…

Red deck wins!

– J.C. Wilbur

angus-mackenzie

Angus Mackenzie is one of the Legendary Creatures that are simultaneously exclusive to Legends and on the Reserved List – making it extremely expensive now. At the time of writing, it is upwards of 70 or 80 dollars now.

So what does he do?

Well, for WUG, you get a 2/2 Legendary creature. Nothing too impressive, but he’s at least playable as soon as turn 2 or 3 with the right mana fixing. His ability is the real reason he is powerful – for WUG and tap, you prevent all combat damage this turn, as long as it is done before combat damage.

Due to the fact his activated ability is Fog, his deck tend to play more defensively – preventing the damage makes you basically invincible to damage as long as you leave 3 mana open. The most common strategy for this is for Superfriends – Bant gives you a lot of fantastic planeswalkers combined with Doubling Season. However, due to the amount of strategies available to him, we’ll be breaking this up into a couple of articles.

Cards for the Planeswalker “Superfriends” build:

Obviously, the main thing for a Superfriends deck is to play a ton of planeswalkers and ways to add loyalty without necessarily just using abilities.

141

Essentially every Planeswalker in this deck (other than Venser, the Sojourner) can immediately use its ultimate if it comes into play after Doubling Season. As a quick reminder, Doubling Season only modifies the loyalty that the Planeswalkers enter with. They’re placed when a planeswalker enters play, but adding loyalty is a cost to use the activated ability of the planeswalker. Doubling Season only causes twice as many counters to be “placed” when counters are “placed,” not added as a cost.

53

Clockspinning is a more narrow card. For U, you can take a counter from any permanent or suspended card and either remove it, or add another counter of that kind to that card. As this includes loyalty counters, it’s already pretty good. It wouldn’t be worth playing if you only used it once, though – it has Buyback for 3 colorless mana, which lets you cast it and then return it to your hand if you pay the buyback cost.

152

Gilder Bairn is the only way we really have to double our Planeswalkers after they’re already in play – for 2{G/U} and an untap (not a tap) you double all of the counters on target permanent. Fairly self explanatory.

M15 has given us quite a few new tools for this deck, in fact.

thechainveil259

The Chain Veil is the newest Superfriends support card. The downside is mostly non-existent in a Superfriends deck as you should always have at least 1 planeswalker in play that you’re using. By paying 4 mana and tapping it, you get to use each planeswalker you control an additional time this turn. This can easily push certain Planeswalkers over the amount of counters that they would need to activate their final abilities. Combined with Rings of Brighthearth, you can then double the Chain Veil activation to get an additional two planeswalker abilities per planeswalker you control. Even when you don’t have the Chain Veil in play, you can use the Rings to get additional planeswalker abilities.

ajanisteadfastEN_huddvvv39d

We also got two new Planeswalkers from Magic 2015 that feel almost exclusively for Superfriends. Ajani Steadfast has a powerful -2 that helps out your other Planeswalkers, but his ultimate combined with Doubling Season gives you an emblem that causes all damage that you or your Planeswalkers would take from a source to 1 – making it much easier to survive an onslaught even if Angus isn’t in play. Jace, the Living Guildpact is fairly strong in this deck. His +1 isn’t as bad in Commander as it is in Constructed due to the size of the decks, but his ultimate at -8 is just ridiculous and it can automatically go off with Doubling Season.

Our newest addition won’t be out for a little while, however.

teferitemporalarchmage

While Teferi, Temporal Archmage is allowed as a commander, he serves a much better purpose in a Superfriends deck like this. His -10 is the most notable aspect when it comes to this deck. The emblem he gives you lets you use your planeswalkers every turn, not just on your own turns – this ruling was confirmed by Matt Tabak earlier this week. Aside from that, his +1 is solid card filtering, and his -1 is very powerful as well, untapping important artifacts like The Chain Veil, and mana rocks like Mana Vault and Grim Monolith.

296

Seedborn Muse is already a fantastic card in Commander, and Teferi just makes it even better. It essentially lets you use each of your planeswalker’s abilities twice every turn, including your opponent’s turns.

The rest of the Planeswalkers in the deck are simply there to have their ultimates able to be activated with Doubling Season on board, mostly.

The next article, which will be out tomorrow, will be about a turbo fog build of the deck.

Until next time.

-SolemnParty

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Teferi, Temporal Archmage – Commander 2014 Preview

Today it was revealed that in November of 2014, there will be 5 five pre-constructed Commander decks. This time, they will each be mono-colored, rather than the three-colored decks previously released. Today, the first of these decks was revealed. It’s a mono-blue deck called Peer Through Time. The cover card is a new planeswalker, Teferi, Temporal Archmage. A Teferi Planeswalker has been expected for quite some time, but why is it the cover card of this new Commander deck?

teferi-temporal-archmage

Yes, you read that correctly. Teferi, Temporal Archmage can be played as your Commander. A planeswalker that can be a Commander?

First of all, let’s consider him as a Planeswalker. He costs 4UU to cast, which is on the high end for a planeswalker, and he starts with 5 loyalty. His +1 ability isn’t bad at all, essentially giving you a free Sea Gate Oracle type effect: look at the top two cards of your deck, and put one of them in your hand and the other on the bottom of the deck. But his -1 ability is very, very good: untap up to four target permanents. So essentially, this Teferi Planeswalker could essentially cost 2 to play, perhaps even less if you’re using Nykthos, Shrine into Nyx in a mono-blue deck.

Already his first two abilities are pretty decent. But his -10 is just bonkers. It’s an emblem effects, which already means that it does something silly. This emblem says: “You may activate loyalty abilities of planeswalkers you control on any player’s turn any time you could cast an instant.”

WHAT!? After reading that, I had to reconstitute myself. I would assume that each planeswalker’s ability can still only be activated once each turn, but being able to activate loyalty abilities of planeswalkers on an opponent’s turn is just a bit broken. Never mind that we have The Chain Veil to make things even sillier, allowing us to use these abilities twice in a turn.

Now a mono-blue deck would seem to be a fairly good place for this Teferi, especially with the powerful Jace planeswalkers, Tezzeret the Seeker, and Tamiyo, the Moon Sage. Considering that he can essentially act as a Legendary Creature, I could see a pretty silly mono-blue deck built around crazy Jace, Tezzeret, and Tamiyo shenanigans doing some work.

But there’s another crazy thing about Mr. Teferi, Temporal Archmage. He passes the Doubling Season test.

He passes the Doubling Season test. Since Doubling Season can double the counters on planeswalkers, Teferi would enter with 10 loyalty counters, and be able to go ultimate upon hitting the board. Now, obviously Doubling Season is a green card, but there are plenty of blue/green and “Super Friends” type decks that will happily make room for this Teferi, as being able to play Planeswalker loyalty abilities at instant speed sounds pretty good. His other two abilities are both useful, as well, in a wide variety of decks.

We’ll see what sort of deck Wizards will support him with. We already know that the other four decks will have planeswalkers as cover cards, as well. It’s hard to know if this will be a regular thing going forward, or just something for this set, because the idea of planeswalkers as Commanders is a pretty cool idea.

Definitely looking forward to a new wave of Commander decks. We’ll see what sort of power Wizards will decide to pack into these decks being able to focus on a single color.

– Elspeth for the Win

mtg_commander_symbol

 

Today, I decided to ask for some responses from Reddit about my Commanding Opinion articles – and I got an awesome recommendation.

Generally Speaking is a new segment on the site that will be used as a kind of Glossary for Commanding Opinion – as a fellow redditor, /u/Pjfinega suggested!

Basically, I’ll be posting articles about things that are generally used in Commander, including archetypes, terminology, and the synergies that should be known in the format.

I’ll try to get these up fairly quickly so they’re there to refer to while writing my articles. If anyone ever wants to suggest anything for the site, you can find me on reddit as /u/solemnparty and you can always comment on any of my articles on here.

Until next time,

-SolemnParty

108

 

Akroma, Angel of Fury is an alternate-reality version of Akroma, Angel of Wrath that was originally introduced in Planar Chaos and was reprinted in Heavenly Inferno, from the original set of Commander decks.

Akroma is 5RRR for a 6/6 uncounterable flying trample angel with protection from white and blue with firebreathing (paying a red to get +1/+0.

The most unusual thing however, is that this Akroma is a Morph creature.

I have no idea why she got morph, aside from Planar Chaos being the king of breaking the color pie. There’s something in the storyline about Ixidor (I’ll get to him eventually) vowing to destroy the Cabal, but I’m not sure how closely related these two characters are.

To explain morph, you may cast this card face down as a 2/2 for 3 mana, and then turn it up for that card’s morph cost, which is 3RRR in this case.

Honestly, I don’t know of many situations you’ll morph your commander into play, but it does at least you have the option of playing her at 3 mana turn three and 6 mana at some point later during the game if you’re flipping her.

The rest of the time, she’s a fairly mediocre commander. She’s a huge threat on the table as a 6/6 flying trampler with protection from the two control colors, but doesn’t do a whole lot else after that. As far as aggro is concerned, her costing is extremely high but does give you a pretty solid creature.

Cards to play in Akroma, Angel of Fury:

  • Standard red support.
  • Sword of Feast and Famine
  • Sword of War and Peace
  • Whispersilk Cloak

If you plan on using Akroma as your commander, you are going to need to be doing commander damage – her high power, evasion and protections make her excellent at the very beginning, and all you need to do from there is make her stronger and harder to get rid of. The few pieces of equipment I mentioned above are just to make her either stronger or hard to get rid of. Feast and famine gives her protection to everything but red between itself and her own protections, and then war and peace or fire and ice can cover that red if she needs protection from all colors. Whispersilk Cloak is to shroud her from the 3 colors she doesn’t have and unblockable so she can kill them as soon as possible.

Luckily, she also has pumping built in, with firebreathing already on the card.

Cards to play Akroma alongside:

The “play alongside” in this case is mostly just talking about her ability to morph, and doesn’t really do a whole lot. She’s a standard red commander, but I feel there are much better options.

That being said, she’s still a great red creature and can definitely see play in other commander decks.

Until next time,

– SolemnParty

 

Usually, the core sets don’t have a whole ton of legendary creatures – we got lucky with M13, which had the tribal cycle of one-color legendaries, like Krenko and Yeva.

M15, however, seems to be full of surprises.

obnixilisthefallen

Ob Nixilis was one of the creatures from Zendikar that sparked my interest the most. Namely, his flavor text.

His spark lost, he plots revenge upon the plane whose corrupting mana fractured his soul.

For tohse not very versed in magic lore, the term spark refers specifically to the Planeswalker spark – that one-in-a-million occurrence that causes a being to become a planeswalker, like Jace or Chandra.

The original Ob Nixilis is a funny card, relying on land drops to drain your opponents. In format with fetchlands, it wasn’t surprising to see a land fall trigger rewarding you with a black effect.

And now, I saw this a few moment ago:

obnixilisunshackled

Ob Nixilis, Unshackled is a new Ob Nixilis – he has gotten his wings (including flying and trample) but not his spark. Rather than the landfall trigger bonus the original got, the new one has an effect that punishes your opponent for using their fetchlands – and any other tutor.

Whenever an opponent searches his or her library, that player sacrifices a creature and loses 10 life.

Well I have to admit, I’m impressed. The other part of this effect is that whenever a creature dies, he gets a +1/+1 counter.

While he’s a little small for at a 4/4 for 6, the original was 3/3 for 5.

I think they are both extremely playable as commanders.

Cards to play in Ob Nixilis, the Fallen:

  • Burnished Hart
  • Consume Spirit
  • Exsanguinate
  • Fetchlands
  • Polluted Bond
  • Terrain Generator

Ob Nixlis, the Fallen essentially plays out like most mono-black commander decks – lots of mana doubling, and then dropping a kill spell like Consume Spirit or Exsanguinate.

Cards to play in Ob Nixilis, Unshackled:

  • Barter in Blood
  • Sadistic Glee
  • Sheoldred, Whispering One

Ob Nixilis, Unshackled is a very, very interesting card that I”m excited about. I feel that The Fallen is more playable as a commander, but Ob Nixilis is more splashable in other commander decks, such as the following:

  • Grimgrin, Corpse-Born
  • Marchesa, the Black Rose
  • Nekusar, the Mindrazer
  • Prossh, Skyraider of Kher Keep
  • Sheoldred, Whispering One
  • Thraximundar

And of course, there’s plenty of other black decks that enjoy death that I’m likely forgetting.

Until next time,

-SolemnParty

 

 

 

Agrus Kos, Wojek Veteran

Agrus Kos, Wojek Veteran, is a Boros Legendary Creature from the original Ravnica: City of Guilds.

At 3RW for a 3/3, he initially sounds fairly underwhelming. That is, until you read his ability:

Whenever Agrus Kos, Wojek Veteran attacks, attacking red creatures +2/+0 and attacking white creatures get +0/+2 until end of turn.

This more or less balances out his casting cost, giving you a 5/5 for 5 mana.

As far as actual Commander implications, he isn’t terrible, but I’d rather play Tajic, Blade of the Legion or Gisela, Blade of Goldnight over him most of the time. However, if you are playing entirely Boros creatures, he effectively makes every creature in your deck +2/+2 bigger each time you go on the offensive, making him a fantastic aggro commander.

The best example of this sort of deck is one that I found on MetaMox, which is becoming a go-to site for our Commander research here at Win Target Game. Besides being a fairly budget deck, this Agros Kos EDH list uses exclusivelycards that are both red and white with the sole exception of Rally the Peasants, which has a Red flashback cost. This allows Agrus Kos the ability to always have his troops at full strength and the various buffs pump more effectively for all creatures.

Things to play in an Agrus Kos Deck:

Outside of using him as a Commander, he is definitely a good play within other Boros decks lead by the other aggressive commanders like Aurelia and Tajic.

How would you build an Agrus Kos deck?

– SolemnParty & Elspeth for the Win

 

Adun Oakenshield Legends

 

Adun Oakenshield is a Jund commander from Legends.

For GRB, you get a 1/2 Legendary Human Knight. Nothing particularly good for 3 mana.

However, his ability is what makes him shine. for another GRB and tap, you can put a creature in your graveyard into your hand.

While this makes him look more like a utility card, it makes him a very powerful combo Commander, being another user of the Hermit Druid Combo in some cases.

The Combo Route:

  • Devoted Druid
  • Dread Return
  • Hermit Druid
  • Morselhoarder
  • Necrotic Ooze
  • Spikeshot Elder

The combo is to use Hermit Druid to mill your entire library by not playing basic lands in the deck at all.

58 (1)

Then, you use Dread Return to get Necrotic Ooze into play, which gets the activated abilities of all creatures in all graveyards: in this case, we’re focusing on Devoted Druid + Morselhoarder + Spikeshot Elder combo.

You can add and remove the -1/-1 counters from necrotic ooze by adding the counters with Devoted Druid and removing them with Morselhoarder to get infinite mana of any colors. Then, using this infinite mana, you repeatedly use the Spikeshot Elder ability to kill every other player at the table.

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Aside from that, Adun is just good at getting creatures back, letting you reuse your best creatures over and over again.

Things to play in an Adun Oakenshield deck:

  • Fauna Shaman
  • Fulminator Mage
  • Life from the Loam
  • Riftsweeper
  • Sakura-Tribe Elder
  • Skullclamp
  • Survival of the Fittest

Until next time,

– SolemnParty

 

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